Schools who only provide online coursework are doing a disservice to their students.

Work with schools : After a book talk, NYPL ca. 192-This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s and reference librarians. Branch managers and regional branch managers.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a suburban area in the Western US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)


What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Financial management, outreach, customer service, grant writing

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Customer service and dealing with difficult customers, telephone or electronic reference, story times,

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Michigan, U of AZ

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Some online courses are ok, but not all should be taken that way because librarianship is seldom a solitary profession. Working with others and interacting face to face is important. Schools who only provide online coursework are doing a disservice to their students.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get some volunteer work in before going to library school. Study library management. It’s the small things like managing funds and a dwindling book budget that are necessary. Experience and embrace your creativity.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Most of what’s learned in library school is theory. Most of our work is on-the-job training. Even after 30+ years, each day is a new adventure. What a great profession!

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”:

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Suburban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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